Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Henri’s Scissors

Winter, Jeanette (Author/Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster 2013. 36 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781442464841 (hardcover)
9781442464858 (e-book)
Original language: English
Dewey: 759.4
Book type: Non-Fiction
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

character, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This inspirational biography, based on the life of Henri-Emile Matisse, begins with his early life “in a small weaving town in France” where he watches his mother paint china and where he dreams of becoming an artist. But the main focus of the story is his later years, when a serious illness confines him to a bed and wheelchair, and he embarks on a new phase in his career—using scissors “to cut out shapes from coloured paper” and pasting them onto wall-sized sheets—creating some of his most beloved works.

Winter’s text is informative yet accessible, with quotes that offer an authentic glimpse into Matisse’s artistic genius: “A pair of scissors is a wonderful instrument.… Why didn’t I think of it earlier?”

The bright acrylic and cut paper illustrations are inspired by the artist’s signature style. Reproductions of some of his art will surely encourage readers to create works of their own.

A final author’s note explains how a visit to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., inspired her to tell this story of the lesser known period in Matisse’s life. This touching read-aloud, with a simple message about determination and inner strength, is an inspirational biography as well as a springboard to conversations about perseverance in the face of great challenges.

  •  Research Matisse’s paper cut-outs using some teacher-selected websites. What common themes or colours do you notice? What mood is evoked by these creations?
  •  

    Discuss the role of adversity in Henri’s life. Use a cause-and-effect graphic organizer to list events in his life and their impact on his career. Make connections to other texts or personal experiences.

  •  

    Research other types of paper-cutting art. Experiment with one of the styles. Create a class mural or piece of art inspired by your research.

  •  

    Select one of Matisse’s works of art as inspiration. Write a fictional poem or story based on it and display it beside the art.

  •  

    On the first page, we learn that Henri’s mother painted china. Discuss the two possible meanings and how a reader can resolve the confusion (use of prior knowledge and context).

  •  

    Draw a timeline of Henri’s life. Use the author’s notes at the end to add dates to the story.

  •  

    Using non-fiction books and teacher-selected websites, research other information about Matisse to add to your timeline. (IE)

  •  

    Matisse painted, drew and cut for many years while he was bedridden. What would you prefer to do in the same situation? Discuss the possibilities and the hardships of your choices.

  • To construct his/her identity
  • To use creativity
  • To use information
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Visual Arts